As is so apparent from photos of Vijaynagar’s landscape, the area has very unique geography. Geologically, it consists of a vast bed of exposed granite rock. This granite solidified from molten to solid deep below the earth’s surface and then was pushed up by tectonic forces. This happened 2.5 billion years ago! (which is very impressive, but would have been even more impressive if the basement rock of much of the Deccan wasn’t even older!) In all the time in between, forces of erosion such as wind, water and heat have shattered the exposed granite to form the landscape of giant rounded boulders we see today. In some places the bedrock itself lies exposed, waiting for erosional forces to continue their work. And through this landscape the Tungabhadra River has cut a course, its own erosional ability forming a shallow valley between a series of granite hills on both banks.
The Sacred Center of Vijaynagar stretches along the south bank of the Tungabhadra. Rising from the river’s edge are a series of low hills (in India we would call them hillocks, because the standard for calling a raised area of land a hill or mountain has been upthrusted by a particular mountain range that stretches across northern and eastern India). We have seen Hemakuta Hill, which is the westernmost of these Sacred Center hills, and which is largely comprised of exposed bedrock. And we have seen views from Matanga Hill, at the base of which lie the Nandi statue at the end of Hampi Bazaar, Chakra Tirth and Achyutaraya’s Temple. The surface of this hill is covered by large boulders. East of Matanga Hill lies Gandhamadana Hill. As we can see in the image below, these two hills flank Achyutaraya’s Temple and its long colonnaded bazaar street. At the top left of the image, we can see that there is a large area of exposed bedrock sloping down towards the river on the otherwise boulder-covered Gandhamadana Hill. Picturesquely located near the bottom of this bedrock slope lie the Narasimha Temple and nearby shrines.
Shrines and temples on the bedrock
Deepstambha (temple pillar to light lamps on)
Gateway behind Narasimha Temple
Gateway leading towards Vitthala Temple
Temples and shrines